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How We Can Help: Emergency Shelter

At Blackburn Center, we provide a number of free and confidential services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Over the next few months, we will be highlighting the different ways in which we help. Today’s topic: our emergency shelter.


Our emergency shelter provides housing to victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) in Westmoreland County for up to thirty days. We work hard to ensure that our facility is secure so that our residents can feel safe as they work to rebuild their lives. This is why we never publish pictures of our shelter, and why shelter donations are dropped off at our administrative offices. Through our shelter, we provide housing, food and laundry facilities to victims of IPV and their children, as well as individual and group counseling for all residents. It is staffed 24 hours a day.

Many of our residents come to us with few personal belongings. For this reason, our shelter makes available a wide range of items for their use, which includes everything from toothpaste and shampoo to cleaning supplies, diapers and pajamas. You can find a regularly-updated list of our shelter needs on our website. We only accept new items for donation, for reasons both practical and philosophical. In practical terms, we do not have the space for the staff to sort through donations of used items; instead, we ask that they those things be donated to one of three Greensburg-area organizations that will make these items available to our residents at low or no cost: St. Vincent DePaul, The YWCA Thrift Shop and Christian Layman Corps. As a philosophical matter, we work hard to show our residents that they have value and are worthy. Intimate partner violence can destroy a person’s self-esteem, and it can be challenging to help a victim of IPV understand that they do have worth as a person. One of the ways that we demonstrate this is by providing them with new, never-used items. This isn’t to say that our residents will never use secondhand items in their lives; it is simply a decision that what they receive from our organization is new because they deserve it to be so.

Our shelter does not just provide a place for victims of IPV to live; we also help our residents get back on their feet and start a new life. Gift cards are a great item to donate to achieve those goals — they allow us to individualize assistance for different families as they set up their households and transition out of the shelter. They also allow us to meet different needs that crop up at our shelter, such as buying a birthday present for adults or children who happen to be at our shelter during their birthday or buying emergency supplies to meet an unexpected need. If you would like to donate gift cards or other items for our emergency shelter, contact our administrative office today!

We are fortunate to have incredible support from our community, which helps us offer this potentially life-saving and life-changing service to victims of intimate partner violence. Your donations of money and goods for our shelter, as well as your time spent volunteering, truly make a difference in the lives of our residents. If you would like to get involved and give back to victims of domestic and sexual violence in Westmoreland County, we offer many different ways to help, including community projects, volunteer opportunities and donations. Together, we can make a difference!

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